The two components of song




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Poetry & Music







Story of a person, like a diary or journal



The Lutenists

(main two)


John Dowland- first great English song composer


Thomas Campion- most prolific, used his own lyrics






Those under the reign of King George


Formal and refined music


Music written for specific events





 Those under the reign of Queen Victoria


Sentimental, simple, strophic music for the “parlor”


Not top quality (amateurish), but very popular


Influenced by Mendelssohn


Use of Tennyson, Kingsley texts






Return to old English poets’ texts


Folk song


Early Edwardian composers were the “Frankfurt Group” (Quilter, Vaughn Williams, etc.)





20th Century;



Resurgence of folksong


Foreign influences


Various forms of modernism


Settings of Houseman’s “Shropshire Lad”


Settings of Rosetti, Hardy




Henry Purcell

    • British
    • 1659-1695
    • greatest master of the English language in song
    • was a singer (countertenor)
    • served 4 monarchs
    • 5 semi operas
    • 1 full opera (Dido and Aeneas)
    • made great use of ground bass




Thomas Campion

  • British
  • 1567-1620
  • most prolific of the Lutenists (over 118 aires)
  • used his own texts
  • style tends to be a bit “square” or direct 



Ralph Vaughn Williams

  • British
  • 1872-1958
  • student of Parry and Stanford
  • collected British folksong; researched and recorded
  • later songs reflected a more mature style
  • “Linden Lea” (poet: Dante Gabriel Rosetti) 



Roger Quilter

  • British
  • 1877-1953
  • member of “Frankfort Gang”, studied in Germany
  • composed 112 songs
  • used texts of English poets (Shelley, Blake, Shakespeare, etc.)
  • straightforward style and harmonics
  • composed for singer Gervase Elwes
  • song cycle “To Julia” was considered “perfect” 



John Ireland

  • British
  • 1879-1962
  • used symbolist poetry by Aurthur Machen
  • 9 song cycles
  • 40 misc. songs




George Butterworth

  • British
  • 1885-1916
  • was a music teacher and critic for London Times
  • composed 2 song cycles using “A Shropshire Lad”
  • collected folk music
  • killed in action in WWI at age 31
  • (his wife was Mrs.Butterworth, the pancake syrup tycoon. Just kidding.) 



Ivor Gurney

  • British
  • 1890-1937
  • studied at the Royal College of Music
  • suffered from mental instability
  • had a great love of the English language
  • 3 periods of his music: school, war, mental breakdown 



Peter Warlock

(aka Philip Heseltine, aka “Hot Mess”)

  • British
  • brilliant but tormented
  • influenced by Frederick Delius
  • studied at Eton, Oxford; but was frustrated with his lack of formal music training
  • wrote 119 solo songs and more in only 14 years 
  • masterwork: song cycle “The Curlew” (a type of bird)
  • great interest in the Elizabethan era
  • dabbled in the occult; led a wild and boosy life
  • song set “Lilygay” inspired by long walks in Wales



Gerald Finzi

  • British
  • 1901-1956
  • studied with Ernest Farrar and Edward Bairstow
  • first published work: “By Footpath and Stile” 1921
  • aquainted with Vaughn Williams and Holst
  • 1930 taught at Royal Academy of Music
  • lived in all the “shires”: Yorkshire, Gloustershire, Hampshire… and London.
  • career was hindered by WWI, after the war he received many commissions
  • song cycles: “O Fair to See”, “I Said to Love” 



Benjamin Britten

  • British
  • 1913-1976
  • most influential song composer since Henry Purcell
  • very individual and iconoclastic music
  •  wrote in all genres, both vocal and instrumental
  • lifelong pacifist, protested WWI
  • was expelled from school over an essay on the treatment of animals
  • wrote much music specifically for his partner, Peter Pears
  • operas: “Peter Grimes”, “Turn of the Screw”, “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and more
  • songs are difficult, but exquisite tone colors (most are written for high lyric tenor).
  • arrangements of British and French folksong, Purcell pieces



Three Spheres of American Musical Life

  • Colonial (classical)
  • Traditional (folk)
  • Democratic (popular)



Stephen Foster

  • American
  • 1826-1864
  • wrote minstrel songs and ballads
  • influenced by Black church music, popular songs, minstrel shows, slave songs
  • “O Susanna”, “Swanee River”
  • commissioned to write music for the famous Christy Minstrels
  • had financial troubles, sold all his songs for $1900




H.T. Burleigh

  • American
  • 1866-1949
  • studied at the National Conservatory of Music (where he met Dvorak)
  • fashioned spirituals into art songs
  • worked as a music editor
  • 150 sacred and secular songs
  • grandmother was a slave




Amy Cheny Beach

(Mrs. “Ha ha ha!” Beach)

  • American
  • 1867-1934
  • self-taught
  • piano prodigy
  • first successful American female composer
  • wrote larger works (symphony, opera), considered song writing a “break” from it
  • always chose very fine poetry to set to music



Charles Naginsky

  • American
  • 1909-1940
  • studed at Julliard, was taught piano by his father
  • wond the Prix de Rome
  • student of Paul Hindemith
  • only published 7 songs, all very striking
  • drowned in a lake at age 31 



Ned Rorem

  • American
  • b.1923
  • wrote for every voice type
  • studied piano at a very early age
  • wrote several hundred art songs
  • was very handsome; promiscuous and popular with both sexes. Meow. 



Virgil Thompson

  • American
  • 1896-1989
  • studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris
  • inspired by Gertrude Stein
  • worked as a critic and author
  • wrote over 300 musical works: “Four Saints in Three;Acts”, “The Mother of;Us;All”
  • won many awards (Guggenheim, Pulitzer, Kennedy Center)
  • old English poets’ texts
  • songs are simple and show a combination of his Missouri/Paris background 



Charles Griffiths

  • American
  • 1884-1920
  • student of Engelbert Humperdink
  • wrote equally in German and English, also Asian languages
  • music is influenced by German-Romantic composers
  • after 1911, his songs became more impressionistic




Seymour Barob

  • American
  • b.1921
  • from Chicago, became a church organist at 13
  • played cello in several prominent orchestras
  • founded New York Pro-Musica
  • mostly a self-taught composer
  • great interest in contemporary music
  • wrote a set of one-act operas
  • set texts by Kurt Vonnegut 



Aaron Copland

    •  American
    • 1900-1990
    • From a Russian Jewish family, born in Brooklyn
    • quintessential American sounding music
    • won Pulitzer Prize
    • “A Lincoln Portrait”, “12 Poems of Emily Dickenson”
    • hated overly sentimental, emotional voices



Marc Blitzstein

  • American
  • 1905-1964
  • studied at U of Penn, Curtis Institute
  • studied in Paris with Boulanger and Schoenberg
  • Russian Jewish family
  • wrote music for socially conscious musical theatre
  • “The Cradle Will Rock”



Kurt Weill

  • American (sort of)
  • 1900-1950
  • left Europe and became and American citizen
  • married a cabaret singer, Lotle Lenya
  • his music was a mix of styles: Broadway, opera, cabaret
  • “Street Scene”, “Threepenny Opera”



John Duke

  • American
  • studied at the Peabody Institute, piano and comp
  • studied in Paris with Boulanger
  • wrote for choir, chamber groups, operas– but mostly songs
  • set almost every top English-language poet
  • “Lovliest of Trees” 



Theodore Chandler

  • American
  • 1902-1961
  • studied at Peabody Inst. and Longy School
  • studied in Paris with Boulanger 
  • his songs are very French in style
  • sometimes multi-tonal
  • “Eight Epitaphs”, text by Walter De LaMare



Paul Bowls

  • American
  • 1910-1999
  • Mexican influence in his songs
  • songs are short, nostalgic, witty, enchanting
  • was a pioneer ethnomusicologist; also a writer
  • moved to Tangier (Africa) in the 1940’s, died there
  • “Blue Mountain Ballads”, incidental music for “Glass Menagerie”



Dominick Argento

  • American
  • b.1927
  • studied at Peabody Inst. and Eastman
  • won Fullbright and Guggenheim scholarships
  • taught at U of Minnesota
  • received many commissions for MN groups
  • wrote works for the stage
  • married to singer Carolyn Bailey
  • music is mostly tonal, set primairly prose texts  



Charles Ives

  • American
  • 1874-1954
  • became an organist at age 14
  • attended Yale
  • was an insurance salesman, composed on the side
  • published 114 songs
  • wrote in all genres
  • suffered from mental and physical problems in later years
  • made many revisions to his works
  • member of Wolf’s Head society, Ivy League



Samuel Barber

  • American
  • 1910-1981
  • attended the Curtis School at age 14
  • lifelong companion, Gian Carlo Menotti
  • studied conducting and singing in Vienna
  • short career as a professional baritone
  • 106 songs 
  • 2 operas, wrote in almost all genres
  • wrote first operetta when he was 10
  • very sophisticated, Romantic, tonal ambiguity, chromaticism, serialism, dissonance
  • “Hermit Songs”, “Sure on this Shining Night” 



Geoffrey Bush

  • British
  • 1920-1998
  • self taught composer
  • studied at Salisbury Cathedral Choir School, Lancing College, Balliol College
  • music influenced by Purcell, Prokofiev
  • texts: children’s rhymes, 16th & 17th cent. English poets 



Frankfurt Gang

  • Roger Quilter
  • Norman O’Neill
  • Balfour Gardiner
  • Cyril Scott
  • Percy Grainger